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Queenless hive for extended period

1946 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  delber
I became a beekeeper last year after hiving a swarm, I have read this forum since then and also checked out every book in local library to educate myself on bees. However there is no replacement for experience, that being said I was too eager to check my hive in late February and apparently dispatched my queen in some method; not sure if she flew off, or I rolled her. There has been no brood since then. In reading many forums and learning that queen reintroduction is not a safe method due to queen-less hives killing introduced new queens especially with a laying worker. I decided to start two more hives and use them to offset this problem, i.e. (having additional brood frames to introduce). I still do not see any brood, no signs of a laying worker, (almost 6 weeks) is this common should I try introducing a queen or be patient wait for a frame of brood to introduce to the hive, or shake them out to one of my new colonies? They are very lethargic and lazy, I understand this to be from lack of brood to tend too. Still enough bees to fill a super 8 frame.
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I would try to introduce a queen. Yes, their is a chance that it will not work, but odds are in your favor.
I would do one of two things....

Introduce a queen using a push in intro cage. It's a cage that you pin the queen under and push into the comb all the way into the mid rib, over an area of emerging brood and nectar/pollen. The emerging brood takes to the queen, she'll lay in the then open cells and once she has larva going, the hive may accept her better.

The other thing I might do instead, is to shake the hive out 50 to 100 feet away from my other hives and remove it's stand and distribute it's combs to my other hives. I've done this way before and it's the most successful way for me so far.

I've not tried the push in cage way yet, but I think it has good merit to work, except for one thing... You don't have any emerging brood to push the cage into. In that case, if you decide to do it this way, grab a frame of emerging brood from one of your other hives, use the push in cage to cage the new queen on it. and give it to your queenless hive.

Good luck in whatever you do.
I had a severe laying worker problem w/ my carni hive that lost their queen probably in Feb when there was no broodnest. I supplied a frame of brood (eggs to pupae) for two weeks and then introduced a new queen in a push-in cage. They accepted her readily. Three days later she had eggs in empty cells and I removed the cage. The bees were extremely happy when she finally walked out of the cage into the sea of workers trying to get her out.

If you have no brood at all then likely laying workers have not developed yet and it should be an easy fix. If unsure, I'd add a frame of brood for a few weeks (at least two, but three if you can swing it) then introduce in a push-in cage (See M Bush's page on laying workers). If you don't have laying workers the bees should make queen cells w/ the first frame of eggs you supply.

I used this opportunity to introduce some good VSH genetics so it was a win-win. Just no honey from this hive this year.
I noticed one of my packages looks extremely weak on bee population, other package looks doubled in size. My suspicion is some of the new packaged roamed to my other package. Is it too risky try a combine with the weak package and the queen-less hive?
If you have another hive I'd encourage you to introduce a single frame of open brood as was stated once per week for 3 weeks. I had a laying worker hive that was hot a few years ago and on the second frame they built 2 queen cells. I still introduced the third frame and it helped to boost their numbers significantly so that when the queen emmerged she had a good ammt. of bees to start her brood nest. That hive made it through the winter. If you don't have this then you can use the push in cage method. Use any worker bees that come with the queen and make sure there's some nectar under the cage. The important thing is that the bees under the cage need to be able to move around well under the cage. Oh and I didn't push it in as far as was mentioned. Just far enough to "stick" to the comb. The bees can't get around it and it worked great for me. I did that this winter as I had one hive that was about dead due to such a low ammt. of bees, so I took the queen and most of the workers and put them under the push in cage, and introduced some worker bees from another hive just before dark. They were in there for 2 days before I opened them up again and there was NO problem. I saved the hive. My other hive didn't miss the workers that I put in.
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If the hive is queenless then no issue. Just use the newspaper method and place the queenless hive above the the hive w/ the queen. Some folks say that if there are laying workers it helps to shake them out before combining but I have no experience and, personally, would not do that.
The only thing I'll add using a newspaper combine with this hive that has been queenless for a good ammt. of time is DO NOT open them up until about a week later. Definitely don't go in and look for the good queen. I had a laying worker hive that balled a good queen. I got the bees off and she went to the top of the frame and flew off. Thankfully she was large and unable to fly well so I got a cage and introduced her. Then things were fine, but if I had left them alone for several days they would have worked themselves out. The good workers from your queen right hive will protect the queen in this situation.
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